While it's true that most strokes occur when a person is 65 or older, the reality is strokes can occur at any age.
Atul Chugh, MD, a cardiologist at Franciscan Physician Network Indiana Heart Physicians in Indianapolis, recently spoke to WIBC radio about stroke. Below is a selection from the interview.
Q. When People Say Someone Had A Massive Stroke, What Are They Usually Referring To?
A. When we hear about someone having a massive stroke, it most likely represents what we call a hemorrhagic stroke, which is different than the term ischemic stroke.
A hemorrhagic stroke is when there is active bleeding that occurs into the brain. We see clinical deterioration or a patient deteriorating with their function very rapidly because there is increase blood development into the tissues of the brain and the patient starts losing many of their functions, including their vital functions. This is what we normally refer to as having a massive stroke.
Q. Does A Hemorrhagic Stroke Generally Result From A Clot?
A. A true hemorrhagic stroke happens very suddenly. That can occur as a result of having basically a tear in the blood vessel that's in the brain, causing blood to expel out of that vessel very, very quickly, causing very rapid deterioration.
Q. What Are The Warning Signs Of A Stroke?
A. The AHA does a very nice job of covering some those warning signs.
Fast, an acronym, F-A-S-T, which says if you see any facial drooping of arm weakness or trouble with speech, then it is time to call the ambulance. So F standing for facial drooping, A standing for arm or leg weakness, S standing for any speech impairments, and T meaning time to call 911.
Q. What Can Be Done To Prevent Strokes?
I think that when we see a case like Luke Perry's, I think it is very important for the public to understand what it is that they can possibly do to not be in the same situation.
The two things that as a cardiologist, which I think are vitally important, are blood pressure control and the identification of atrial fibrillation. We know that from stroke prevention trials, that the decrease of blood pressure by 10 millimeters of mercury in certain populations can decrease the chance of stroke by up to 25%. This is a very robust result, as a result of doing something very simple, such as checking your blood pressure and making sure that it is under control with the use of antihypertensives.
The other issue of atrial fibrillation is an important one, and in the current era with the Apple watches, and other methods that we can monitor heart rhythms, we are actually it's a perfect time in history to be able to find out whether one has any abnormal rhythms, and if they do identify that they do have an abnormal rhythm, whether they be at the gym when they have or taking a blood pressure, which often can tell you whether someone has an irregular rhythm, it is important that that patient contact a physician and say, "Well, this is what I'm experiencing. I'd like you to look a little bit further into this."
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